By Peggy Pifer
The men were sitting in the boat when the storm came up. The waves tossed the boat mercilessly, and the men began to panic. They feared that this storm would end their lives. All but one, that is-the one who rested calmly and peacefully in the bottom of the boat. When they awakened Him, He calmed the sea with the words: “Peace! Be still!” (Mk. 4:39). So at peace was this man with Himself that He could command peace around Him.
Have there been times in your life when you wanted to be able to calm the storms around you? What do you do when you feel this way? Do you have a special way of getting away from your problems, a place of quiet within you where they seem not to exist?
Peace is probably one of the most needed qualities in our lives. If we don’t have peace, what do we have? Chaos and fear among other things. If we don’t have peace in our hearts, how do we face the challenges and disappointments of life?
Without peace, we are like the men in the storm. With peace, we can, like Jesus, command “Peace! Be still!” and calm the troubled waters that rock the boats of our lives.
Where do we find peace? How do we find peace? How does our peace of mind affect others? Let’s explore these questions together.
Where Is Peace?
Jesus’ way of dealing with the problems and challenges that arose in His life was not to find a place away from them-although He did go apart from the crowds to pray and center Himself. Jesus’ way of dealing with the sick and the lame and the poor, His way of handling the literal as well as the figurative storms of life, was to be at peace within Himself. And He found this peace by knowing where it came from and by being consciously one with its Source.
You can do this too. You can find peace within you because you can tap the Source of peace within you. God is your peace, dear friend. God is the source of peace for everyone, and the more you turn to God for peace, the more strength you have when trouble arises.
Before we can calm the troubled waters outside ourselves, we first need to learn to calm our inner selves. Peace is not something outside of us that we have to assimilate and draw within. We do not have to
look to outside sources to comfort and calm our souls. Rather, peace is something we already have within us. It is a God-given quality we can call upon at any time to hold us up and keep us strong.
Peace is something that no other person can give you. Someone else may be able to temporarily alleviate your fears, but that person cannot give you peace of mind. Someone else may be able to assure you that things will be all right, but that person cannot put peace in your heart.
There is a simple way of achieving peace-trust God. Yes, trust God, not to give you peace of mind, but to be your peace of mind. And this peace, this peace of God is within you right now. You don’t have to wander in search of it; you don’t have to depend on others to point the way for you.
Look within your heart. God is there. Peace is there. When you find it, you discover that you don’t view the circumstances of life in the same way. That doesn’t mean you’ll never face another challenge. It means that you can face any situation with a calmness in your soul and an attitude of serenity in your heart.
How can you find peace within you? Go to God within you-pray, meditate. Do what it takes for you to feel the presence of God within you, because when you feel God’s presence, you will feel peace – wonderful, calming, sustaining peace.
You will find that spending time regularly in prayer will help you feel the presence of God, the presence of peace. When you pray and how much time you spend in prayer are, of course, up to you and will depend on your available time. If you don’t have a regular time to pray each day, you may want to begin with a fairly short time of prayer. You can increase your prayer time gradually, as you feel it easier to give more of your attention to God for longer periods of time.
Let your times of prayer simply be time with God, not time pleading or asking for peace or wondering where peace is. Try letting go of your cares and concerns for one short period of time and just be with God. Don’t be concerned about keeping your mind focused on anything. Gradually give your attention to God. If you find this difficult to do, don’t be concerned. It will get easier. The more you practice relaxing and turning to God, the longer you will be able to keep your attention only on God and the more you will feel the presence of God, which is your goal. Remember, feeling the presence of God is feeling the presence of peace in your heart, because God is your peace.
As you spend more time with God, you will discover that you don’t just think of God when you pray. During different times of the day, the idea of God may come to you. When this happens, you are becoming more aware that God is always with you, that God is a part of you. And when a distressing moment arises, you will find yourself thinking first of God, not of how upset you are. You will begin to find that there are peaceful ways of handling the things which previously drove you to distraction. You will be expressing the peace of God within you.
There are times when situations arise that may momentarily make you forget you are one with God and one with the peace of God. These are temporary and last only as long as you allow them to, because you can go to God at any time and any place. During times like these, if you have a favorite prayer or Bible verse, you may find yourself calling upon these words that you have implanted in your mind and heart for help. This is good, because this activity is another way of reminding yourself that you are never alone, that God is with you.
You may already have your favorite prayer or perhaps a Bible verse to use. A prayer that Unity students have been using for a very long time is “The Prayer of Faith” by Hannah More Kohaus:
God is my help in every need;
God does my every hunger feed;
God walks beside me, guides my way
Through every moment of the day.
I now am wise, I now am true,
Patient, kind, and loving too.
All things I am, can do, and be,
Through Christ, the Truth that is in me.
God is my health, I can’t be sick;
God is my strength, unfailing, quick;
God is my all; I know no fear,
Since God and love and Truth are here.
You can use these words, especially “God is my help in every need” to calm yourself during a stressful situation. Saying “God is my help” and taking this realization into your heart will give you such a sense of peace.
Others have found comfort in the words of Unity’s “Prayer for Protection”:
The light of God surrounds me; The love of God enfolds me; The power of God protects me; The presence of God watches over me; Wherever I am, God is.
Wherever you are, God is! How comforting and how peaceful! With this assurance, you can face any challenge, centered in the peace of God.
The words above can get you started or serve as an instant reminder of God’s presence with and within you, but the words of another may not be as helpful to you as the words of your own heart. When you pray, let the words flow from you to God and listen. Listen for the assurance of God’s peace within you.
The World Around You
Do you know what an influence you have on others? Your actions, your words, even your thoughts stimulate positive or negative responses from others.
Your attitude, whether you are calm and levelheaded or fearful and agitated, affects those around you. When you approach other people or situations centered in God, you bring peace and calmness with you. In turn, people will unconsciously respond to your spirit of inner peace, poise, and confidence.
Think of yourself as a radiating center of peace, because that is precisely what you are. The presence of God within you, your peace at all times, will radiate from you to others-to the neighbor whose dog woke you in the night, to your co-worker who disagrees with you on a project, to your child, who is upset about a classmate-all these and more.
When you take time to pray, speak words that bolster the idea of being a center of peace. You may want to pray something like this:
Dear God, You are part of my very being. You are my peace. With You in my heart, l am a radiating center of peace. Help me radiate this peace to everyone I meet today.
From this place of peace within you, you shine as a beacon of peace to everyone whose life you touch. More than that, your inner peace flows to others you do not even know. Because you directly and positively affect one person, you indirectly affect others whom that person deals with. You become part of a chain reaction, heart reaching out to heart, that flows outward to the entire world.
So you see, this peace of God that begins in your heart and blesses you every moment of every day also blesses people around the world. Peace is vital to you and to your survival and wholeness and success as a human being just as it is vital to the entire world.
Most important, peace keeps you calm, collected, and poised. It helps you calm the storm and keep the waves of life from rocking your boat. Be at peace.